No Trespassing!

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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And forgive us our debts …

Matthew 6:12

In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches us first to pray for “daily bread” and then right after to pray for the “forgiveness of sins.” Jesus wants us to connect the two and understand that life is both a physical and a moral experience. We need to be as hungry for forgiveness as we are for bread.

This phrase in the Lord’s Prayer can be prayed using three different words, each of which helps us understand the nature of our sin. First, we considered the word, sin, which means failing to be in the place we are supposed to be. Today, we examine the second word, trespass, which means being in a place we’re not supposed to be.

We once lived at the base of Brown’s Mountain. If you’re familiar with Spokane, Washington, you know the place I am describing. Out our kitchen window looking east, there was Brown’s Mountain, really more of a tall hill than a mountain. I said to my two young sons, “Let’s go climb it.” So off we went with water, lunch, and hiking sticks.

The paved road turned to gravel and ended at a gate plastered with warning signs about “no trespassing,” “private property,” and something about “sensitive broadcasting towers.” But we had hiked so far, and there was a hole in the fence. So I climbed through, and my boys came after me. From the moment I “trespassed,” I never enjoyed another step of the climb. I worried that every sound was a caretaker with an Uzi and a big dog or a military helicopter with armed personnel. Dashing from tree to tree and boulder to boulder, we eventually made it to the top where we ate our lunch, but we were always looking over our shoulder. We were, after all, trespassing. We were in a place we weren’t supposed to be.

Jesus teaches us to pray, “Forgive us our trespasses,” because we step over boundaries that separate faithful behavior from rebellious behavior. Sometimes we trespass suddenly and impulsively. Other times we drift into forbidden territory, hardly noticing how the landscape has changed. Very slowly, we become the very person we swore we never would be.

Like the prodigal son in Jesus’ famous parable (Luke 15), we take the father’s noble inheritance and slide into the far country. We have better ideas for our father’s gifts, but we are mortified to discover that our ideas are illusions.

Jesus is eager for us to come to our senses and pray, “Father, forgive our trespasses.” Then, the Father will run to greet us, like he ran to greet the prodigal son even while he was still far away. The Father will restores us and celebrate with all his friends, that the one who was lost has been found, and the one who was dead is now alive again. “Father, forgive us our trespasses.”

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Describe a time you found yourself far from God. How did you get there? What was it like living there? Under what circumstances are you most likely to trespass into forbidden and unhealthy territory?

PRAYER: Gracious Heavenly Father, I don’t understand why I think that my ways are better than yours and my thoughts are better than yours. But every time I do, I trespass into forbidden territory where all sorts of tangled dangers wrap around me. Please, install an alarm in my heart to warn me when I am trespassing into life-defeating territory. Grant me the strength to stand on your life-giving rock. Amen.


Dave Peterson is an ordained pastor who is the Director of Community Outreach for The Robert and Janice McNair Foundation and Scholarly Advisor for the H. E. Butt Family Foundation. He is the author of Receiving and Giving, Unleashing the Bless Challenge in Your Life. Dave and his wife, Terri, have four adult children and four grandchildren.


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Featured image by MorkiRo. Used with Permission. Source via Flickr.